How will the US president behave at the NATO summit? After withdrawing from many international agreements, the Allies fear problems. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg weighed down.
By Kai Küstner, ARD Studio Brussels
NATO faces what is arguably the most difficult summit in its almost 70-year history: no one can rule out that US President Donald Trump will break another alliance – after he has announced numerous international agreements and subsequently also withdrew his blessing from the final document of the G7 states would have. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is nevertheless convinced that the alliance will survive, as he said in an interview with the ARD studio Brussels explained.
Nevertheless, the NATO Secretary General urges both sides of the Atlantic – Europe and the US – to conclude the summit shortly before the summit begins: “The transatlantic friendship can only be maintained if there is political will on both sides of the Atlantic to maintain cooperation.”
“Cohesion has already suffered”
From the point of view of former NATO ambassador to Slovakia, Tomas Valasek, who is now the director of the Carnegie Europe think tank, the cohesion of the alliance since Trump’s inauguration has already suffered significantly. In his opinion, this has consequences for the basic structure of the Alliance. Even now, according to Valasek, the deterrence is weakened. “Because we are dealing with a US president who not only fundamentally disagrees, but has less interest in the idea of an alliance.”
Stoltenberg, too, is well aware of the fierce dispute that Europeans are currently having in so many areas with their most powerful ally, USA. in the ARD radio interview He is convinced, however, that the transatlantic bond will not break. President Trump is a different kind of politician, he has a very direct language. There are also serious disagreements over the Iran-Atomic Agreement, climate policy and trade. “But,” he adds, “Trump has made it public many times, and in talks with me, that he’s part of NATO.”
“Putin’s strategic goal is the division of Europe”
Just a few days after the summit in Brussels, the next summit of the US President is already up. Then Trump meets with Russian President Putin in Helsinki. A gathering that has at least as many uncertainties for NATO as its own summit: If the message were to end up being that Trump understands Putin better than his allies, that would be a problem for the Alliance from the point of view of political experts.
“Putin’s strategic goal is not mastery of the Baltic States, his strategic goal is to split the USA-Europe unity and divide Europe,” explains Carnegie Europe expert Thomas Carothers.
The Alliance must live with imponderables
Stoltenberg welcomes the meeting between Trump and Putin. Any attempt to reduce tension is good, according to Stoltenberg. Because dialogue is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. “It’s good that US President Trump meets Putin after the summit,” he says. “He will be able to discuss the messages and the NATO approach to Russia with the other 28 Allies before meeting with President Putin.”
From a NATO point of view, it is an advantage that the Trump-Putin encounter takes place after the summit. Otherwise, the Trump message would have been in advance: Putin is more important to me than the Alliance.
One thing is for sure: The Alliance, which has been dedicated to the safety of its members, has to live with imponderables these days, which it did not see coming before the US election.
“Federal government must raise budget”
One of Trump’s favorite subjects is, in his view, far too low a defense spending by Europeans and especially Germany. Stoltenberg showed in an interview with the ARD studio Brussels Understanding of the US demands. Which had given Trump emphasis, by sending letters to a number of Allies , among others to the Federal Government. However, it is not unusual for NATO political leaders to write each other’s letters, Stoltenberg said. He himself already wrote letters.
Germany has increased its defense budget, stated Stoltenberg. But he expects the German government to do more. Now the big question is how vehemently Trump demands more money at the NATO summit – and whether he underlines this with tangible threats, such as a troop withdrawal. That, in turn, could seriously shake the Alliance architecture, which had been built over decades.
Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on 09 July 2018 at 05:14.